30 September 2021

Well, Now We Know Why They Flew a Giant Penis

Dicks in Space!!

It appears that Jeff Bezos has brought dangerous levels of toxicity to his Blue Origin space venture.

Alexandra Abrams, Former Head of Blue Origin Employee Communications, and 20 other former employees who are at this point anonymous because of fears of retaliation, have described a work environment that is so profoundly toxic and dysfunctional  to constitute a safety issue.

The basic point here is that unlike Amazon, where selling books ain't rocket science, this is ……… well ……… rocket science:

We are a group of 21 former and current employees of Blue Origin. Many of us have spent our careers dreaming of helping to launch a crewed rocket into space and seeing it safely touch back down on Earth. But when Jeff Bezos flew to space this July, we did not share his elation. Instead, many of us watched with an overwhelming sense of unease. Some of us couldn’t bear to watch at all.

Blue Origin’s mission statement features prominently on its website, and it’s a lofty one: “enabling a future where millions of people are living and working in space to benefit Earth.” All of us joined Blue Origin eager to innovate and to open access to space for the benefit of humanity. We believe exploring the possibilities for human civilization beyond Earth is a necessity. But if this company’s culture and work environment are a template for the future Jeff Bezos envisions, we are headed in a direction that reflects the worst of the world we live in now, and sorely needs to change.


Professional dissent at Blue Origin is actively stifled. Smith personally told one of us to not make it easy for employees to ask questions at company town halls—one of the only available forums for live, open discussion. Smith also asked his COO for a list of employees who were troublemakers or agitators. The list was then distributed to senior leaders so they could “have a talk” with the agitators in their groups. Critics inside the company have been forced out for speaking up and offered payment in exchange for signing even more restrictive nondisclosure agreements—including some of the engineers who ensure the very safety of the rockets. Smith’s inner circle of loyalists makes unilateral decisions, often without the buy-in of engineers, other experts, or senior leaders across various departments.

This suppression of dissent brings us to the matter of safety, which for many of us is the driving force for coming forward with this essay. At Blue Origin, a common question during high-level meetings was, “When will Elon or Branson fly?” Competing with other billionaires—and “making progress for Jeff”—seemed to take precedence over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule.

In 2020, company leaders demonstrated increasing impatience with New Shepard’s schedule of a few flights per year; their goal, routinely communicated to operations and maintenance staff, was to scale to more than 40. Some of us felt that with the resources and staff available, leadership’s race to launch at such a breakneck speed was seriously compromising flight safety. When Challenger exploded, the government’s investigation determined that the push to keep to a schedule of 24 flights per year “directly contributed to unsafe launch operations.” Of note: the Challenger report also cited internal stifling of differences of opinion as one of the organizational issues that led to the disaster and loss of life.

In the opinion of an engineer who has signed on to this essay, “Blue Origin has been lucky that nothing has happened so far.” Many of this essay’s authors say they would not fly on a Blue Origin vehicle. And no wonder—we have all seen how often teams are stretched beyond reasonable limits. In 2019, the team assigned to operate and maintain one of New Shepard’s subsystems included only a few engineers working long hours. Their responsibilities, in some of our opinions, went far beyond what would be manageable for a team double the size, ranging from investigating the root cause of failures to conducting regular preventative maintenance on the rocket's systems.


We have seen a pattern of decision-making that often prioritizes execution speed and cost reduction over the appropriate resourcing to ensure quality. In 2018, when one team lead took over, the team had documented more than 1,000 problem reports related to the engines that power Blue Origin’s rockets, which had never been addressed.

Many of us see history repeating itself. Should we allow commercial entities intent on flying an increasing number of people to space to make the same errors and accountability oversights that led to past disasters? NASA, as a civilian agency, is accountable to the public. Blue Origin, a private company, is not.

As the old saying goes, "A fish rots from the head." 

Bezos is a lawless and toxic individual who creates lawless and toxic organizations.  This is not a recipe for safety, as is evident from the horrific safety record at Amazon warehouses. 

Want Some Cheese with That Whine?

So, now it's Samuel Alito who is throwing a hissy fit over people criticizing his and his fellow conservative justices corruption.

Sorry, but there is no reason for one of the co-equal branches of government to be immune from public criticism: 

Justice Samuel Alito leapt into a political fray over the Supreme Court on Thursday, lashing back at critics who have accused the justices of increasingly issuing momentous decisions on its emergency docket without the benefit of a full briefing or oral arguments.

Alito said complaints about the court’s “shadow docket” are misplaced and intended to conjure up images of justices conspiring to advance their ideological agendas under the cover of darkness.

If you are so upset about people complaining about the job that you, quit.  Otherwise, just shut the f%$# up.


In his address, Alito repeatedly railed against the media for propagating what he called “unfair and damaging attacks” on the court, but also accused “political figures” of doing the same.

“The media and political talk about the shadow docket is not serious criticism,” Alito insisted. At another point, he snarked at the press: “Journalists may think we can dash off an opinion the way they dash off articles.”

Even if you are unaccountable, this does not place you above criticism.

This is an Interesting Thesis

With Joe Biden instituting vaccine mandates, but we've seen the overwhelming majority of anti-vaxxers have capitulated without a whimper.

Over at the Editorial Board, John Stoehr has an interesting explanation for this, which is basically that authoritarians are hard wired to kowtow to authority, so coercive authority is the most effective way to deal with them.

Mr. Stoehr is a bit bombastic, but I thought that it merits sharing with my reader(s).

There is a part of me that sees this as a simplistic analysis which essentially demonizes the right, but the empirical data, which shows that less than 1% of the workforce is walking, not the ~20% the doomsayers predicted.

Certainly, there are a lot of people out there who do not want to be making their own decisions, but the exact number, and their distribution across the political spectrum is still largely a matter of conjecture:

Monday was the deadline here in Connecticut for state employees to get vaccinated, per order of the governor, Ned Lamont. The state press corps spent last week speculating about the number of workers who’d walk off the job before being forced to get the shot. Attention settled on school bus drivers. Around 500,000 children depend on them. Reporters asked the Lamont administration what it would do if thousands of kids were left stranded. But by Monday, it was clear that the vast majority of drivers complied with the law.

A similar pattern played out across the country. Deadlines were imposed. Blood oaths were taken. Anxieties grew. Americans of seemingly sound mind swore they’d never get vaccinated against their will. Then — obedience. The people who said they’d never do what they were told did what they were told. The people with so many “reasons” for being against vaccines forgot all about those “reasons.” The people whose identities were built on “beliefs” decided those “beliefs” weren’t as important as the consequences of keeping them.

What lessons can we draw from this? Most importantly, Americans with authoritarian tendencies are weak. They don’t know how to make decisions independent of authority figures in their lives (whoever they may be). Because of this, they fear making the wrong choice. They fear the humiliation and pain they believe comes with being wrong. Legally enforceable mandates make the choice easy by making the choice for them. Authoritarians are weak. Vaccine mandates helped save face.

Second, they don’t want freedom. Yes, I know. They say they want freedom. They say they will die for it. They won’t, though. They won’t do anything demanding sacrifice. What they want is the sense of community that comes with belonging to an authoritarian collective that does, in its own way, what mandates do — choose for them. So while they say they want freedom, what they desire is being told what to do. They don’t have the skills. Coercion and force come as a relief.


The appropriate response, therefore, is not what liberals normally think it should be. Liberals typically try to understand fear. We typically try to feel empathy. That’s why, after Donald Trump was elected, all those stories about “economic anxiety” made sense. We were trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. They were not domestic enemies. They were victims of unfettered capitalism. I hope all of us, but liberals especially, draw the right lesson from the fact that nearly all of these people caved under legal pressure. The political answer to authoritarian weakness isn’t compassion. It’s coercion and force.

As I noted the essay is a bit over the top, but the evidence supports this assertion.

Also, my (famously unreliable) gut agrees with him.  

To quote Natalie Manes, "I'm not ready to make nice," and to quote Andy Partridge, "People will always be tempted to wipe their feet on anything with 'welcome' written on it."

It's Jobless Thursday!!

Initial unemployment claims rose slightly for the 4rd straight week.\, and the less volatile 4 week moving average rose.

I think that we are seeing the contractionary effects of the end of extended unemployment benefits:

New applications for unemployment benefits are trending this month near the lowest levels of the pandemic, as employers continue to limit layoffs during Covid-19’s latest surge driven by the Delta variant.

Initial unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, have edged higher the past three weeks largely due to temporary factors. An accounting issue in California has effectively double counted those shifting from recently ended federal pandemic benefits to other programs. Parts shortages in Michigan are causing short-term auto industry layoffs.

Still, the four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility in the weekly figures, was 340,000, just above the lowest level since the Covid-19 crisis began last year.

New claims rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. California was a driver of the increase. Claims rose by 18,000 in the state last week but, in total, fell for the rest of the country, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.


Jobless applications edging higher “reflects the moderation in overall economic activity,” said Kathy Bostjancic, economist at Oxford Economics. “However, we expect initial claims to return to their downward path in the weeks ahead as the economy resumes stronger momentum.”

The recent level of claims is well down from millions of applications made weekly in the spring of 2020, but remains above 2019’s weekly average of 218,000. Claims trended down much of the summer despite an increase in Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant and the economic uncertainty that caused.

The 218K in 2019 was pretty close to the level one would expect just from normal turnover in an ordinary economy.

362,000 is more that 50% above this.  As I have noted before, by the standards of the before time, this is a pretty awful report.

Thursday’s claims report provides the first look at unemployment rolls after extended and enhanced federal unemployment benefits put in place to respond to the pandemic ended in all states on Sept. 6. Continuing claims made to pandemic programs are reported on a several-week delay.

Yeah, that is the concerning part.  The government spending that has kept the economy afloat has ended.

Where does it go now?

29 September 2021

Light Posting for a While

I am hip deep in ancient recipes for a culinary contest known as Trial by Fire.

Apicius is my co-pilot.

28 September 2021

Happy Simchat Torah

Hopefully, you are all not sober.

Unfortunately, I AM sober.

27 September 2021

Oh, You Delicate Snowflakes

In an Tiger Beat on the Potomac's Playbook today, they document the amazing level of narcissism and butt-hurt exhibited by the Republican wing of the Democratic Party:

FRUSTRATION WITH BIDEN: Moderate Democrats expected Biden to start twisting House progressives’ arms during their White House meeting last week. But we’re told by sources in the progressive camp and another senior Democratic aide that the president has neither asked progressives to drop their demand that the reconciliation bill pass in tandem with BIF, nor pressed them to accept a stand-alone vote on BIF [Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework] this week — at least not yet. This has infuriated moderates.

“The president needs to pick up the phone and call people,” the moderate source close to the talks told us. The person argued that the White House has been in “listening mode” for too long and needs to bang heads to get this vote over the finish line this week.

What they don't get is that Biden thinks that the larger spending bill is more important to achieving his agenda than is the smaller bill.

They are upset that Biden is not actively sabotaging himself to accommodate their selfish, and quite frankly self-destructive, proclivities.  (When the reckoning comes for do-nothing Democrats, the do-nothing Dems in the Blue Dog and New Dem caucuses get hit hardest.)

Biden doesn't have to bang heads, because by not doing so, it's the moderates faces who get eaten by leopards.

F%$# them with Cheney's dick.

H/t Atrios.

Tweet of the Day

Why does everyone on the internet write better than I do?

Best Reddit Post of the Decade

Right wing hack political cartoonist Ben Garrison has Covid-19, and he is INSISTING that he will not go to the hospital.

I don't like the idea of divine retribution,I prefer to think of this as deliberate self harm.

Still, I am amused, which makes me a bad person, but I am a vaccinated bad person.

26 September 2021

Incredibly Unsurprising News

The GAO has determined that the Pentagon is completely hopeless when it attempts to address fraud

This, of course, assumes that the Pentagon is actually interested in addressing fraud.

Fraud is a feature, not a bug:

The Pentagon is falling short in its efforts to combat fraud in defense contracts, according to a federal audit obtained by CQ Roll Call.

The Government Accountability Office report, to be made public Monday, credits Defense Department leaders with making some progress in establishing systems to find and root out fraud. But the audit nonetheless documents several ways military and civilian officials are lagging in their efforts.


“The scope and scale of this activity makes DOD procurement inherently susceptible to fraud,” the GAO said.


The lawmakers who requested the report expressed dismay about its findings.

“The Pentagon doesn’t seem to want to get serious about combating the fraud, waste, and financial mismanagement that has been its legacy for decades,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Budget Committee, one of two lawmakers who requested the report.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Reform, was the other.

“This failure to safeguard taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable, and I urge the Biden Administration to quickly and fully implement GAO’s recommendations and put the Defense Department on a path to operate more efficiently and effectively, with the confidence that it is not spending money on fraudulent contracts,” Maloney said in a statement.


In the auditors’ report, they cited signs that some in the Defense Department may not be treating the problem with the urgency it deserves.


Sanders, in his statement, said the report shows that the Pentagon does not “want to get serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively.” He called that “absolutely unacceptable.”

It is unacceptable, but it is also largely intentional.

The politicians vote money to corrupt defense contractors, who steal from the taxpayers, and then kick back money to the politicians as campaign donations, and to the generals, as post retirement do-nothing jobs.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

It needs to stop.

Tweet of the Day

I would argue that this applies to IOS and MacOS as well.

25 September 2021

Not Orwellian at All

It appears that Ford Motors has been using its infotainment systems to store drivers text conversations and then gives them to the police and private companies without the knowledge of approval of the drivers.

This should be illegal.  It's not illegal nationally, but it is in Washington State:

Ford Motor Company uses its infotainment system to secretly download and store drivers’ private text conversations, and then turns them over to law enforcement and the private company Berla, a new class action lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit was filed in Washington on Sept. 10 by lead plaintiffs Mark Jones and Michael McKee, who allege the company violated the Washington Privacy Act. The act, they say in the suit, forbids any entity in the state of Washington from intercepting or pre-recording any private communication without first obtaining consent of all the participants in the communication.

But Ford, they allege, has been doing so illegally through software and hardware made by Berla Corporation. Berla then supplies those conversations to law enforcement, military, civil and regulatory agencies, and select private industry organizations, the lawsuit alleges. Berla does not give private citizens any means to access or delete their own conversations.

“On information and belief, vehicle infotainment systems in Ford vehicles automatically download a copy of every text message stored on any phone connected to the system and store that copy in computer memory on the vehicle in such a manner that the vehicle owner cannot access it,” the lawsuit reads.


The same issue is true even with rental cars, the lawsuit says, with Ben LeMere, the CEO and founder of Berla, telling reporters the company has seen a number of messages stored in rental cars that were requesting drugs and sex. LeMere told the reporteres that as soon as a phone is plugged into a USB power port, the hardware and software will “start sucking all your data down into the car.”

First, use the car power jack adapter, not a USB port, second, here's hoping that both Ford and Berla end up paying through the nose for this.

That being said, there really needs to be a law making this sort of data acquisition, particularly when done for the benefit of elements of the US State Security Apparatus, illegal when conducted without a warrant issued on probable cause.

This would probably cripple a number of businesses, Berla and Palantir immediately come to mind, but that a feature, not a bug.

One Thing That de Blasio Has Done Right

The soon to be former mayor has been supporting a bill to provide additional benefits and protections to food delivery workers, which has now passed.

In addition to the mundane, restaurants must allow food delivery workers to use their bathrooms, it also provides regulations, benefits, and wage guarantees.

About f%$#ing time:

The New York City Council on Thursday approved a slate of bills improving working conditions for app-based food deliverers — becoming the first major U.S. city to set minimum protections for people toiling in the gig economy.

As first reported by THE CITY, the Council’s six-bill package — which includes granting couriers access to restaurant bathrooms, mandating minimum payments per trip and ensuring that tips get to workers — is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Outside City Hall, dozens of delivery workers cheered as they heard the news, gathering ahead of the vote to distribute helmets to other couriers and help with bike tune-ups.


The minimum pay rate approved by the Council in a 40-to-3 vote marks the first time a major U.S. city will standardize the working conditions of people toiling for the app-based delivery industry — setting a precedent as some major tech companies embark on a national campaign to clamp down on government regulations.

The bills also included measures that will put limits on how far workers can be asked to ride — an issue that came to the forefront when some delivery people were sent on interborough trips as remnants of Hurricane Ida pounded the city earlier this month.

The delivery companies are gong to file lawsuits against this, and other, reform measures, but absent the Supreme Court returning to the Lochner Era, where the "Freedom to Contract," trumped the ability of the government to regulate wages and wage conditions.

Of course, given the current makeup of the court, packed as it is, the return to the Lochner era is a distinct possibility.

Pass the Popcorn

Pass the Popcorn

A group of Facebook shareholders have filed a lawsuit against the social media giant, claiming that they overpaid the FTC to protect Mark Zuckerberg, which is not in the best interest of those shareholders.

Even though Zuckerberg holds a controlling interest in the company, this does not exempt him, or other officers of Facebook, from acting in the best interest of the company.

I don't think that they will prevail, but discovery should prove prove very interesting:

In a newly unsealed lawsuit, Facebook shareholders allege that the company intentionally overpaid a $5 billion Federal Trade Commission fine to protect CEO Mark Zuckerberg from further government scrutiny.

"Zuckerberg, Sandberg, and other Facebook directors agreed to authorize a multi-billion settlement with the FTC as an express quid pro quo to protect Zuckerberg from being named in the FTC's complaint, made subject to personal liability, or even required to sit for a deposition," the lawsuit says (emphasis in the original). An early draft of the order obtained by The Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act shows that the commission was considering holding Zuckerberg responsible.

The FTC levied the fine in July 2019 in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw political operatives harvesting the personal data of 50 million Facebook users without their consent. (The lawsuit says only 0.31 percent of the affected users consented.) The fine (which was a record for privacy-related penalties) was 50 times larger than the maximum prescribed by a previous FTC consent decree, the lawsuit alleges. It was also well in excess of the previous record fine of $168 million.

"Facebook's maximum monetary exposure was $104,751,390—about $4.9 billion less than it agreed to pay," shareholders said in the lawsuit. The overpayment, they said, is a breach of fiduciary duty.


The shareholders filed the lawsuit in Delaware's Court of Chancery. Among the plaintiffs are a handful of pension and retirement funds, including the massive California State Teachers' Retirement System, which manages over $250 billion. The defendants include Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, several other executives, and members of the board at the time of the settlement, including Peter Thiel, Mark Andreessen, and Jan Koum, among others.

A second lawsuit, which has been consolidated with the first, also names Palantir Technologies, Thiel's big data analytics firm. That lawsuit alleges tight ties between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica, citing a 2019 book by whistleblower Christopher Wylie. Wylie reported that several Palantir employees, including one of the company's lead data scientists, routinely worked at Cambridge Analytica's offices "in person, during normal business hours," the lawsuit says. "The two companies were so intertwined that, as the Stanford Daily reported in April 2018, Palantir earned itself the moniker 'Stanford Analytica.'" Palantir reportedly took steps to obscure the relationship.

As a bonus, the worst man in Silicon Valley is involved too.

When the rocks get turned over at Facebook, it's going to be very interesting.

24 September 2021

Tekeli li! Tekeli li!

Some children in New Zealand have discovered the fossils of a heretofore unknown prehistoric penguin.

Let's see:  Distant southern land, giant penguins ……… If those kids hear something that sounds like a subway train, run like hell:

What's black and white and the size of a 10-year-old child? A giant, extinct penguin that lived between 27 million and 35 million years ago in what is now New Zealand.

The enormous diving bird stood about 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) tall and had unusually long legs and beak for a penguin, according to scientists who recently described it as a newfound species. It was discovered in 2006 by fossil-hunting students with the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club (JUNATS), a natural history club in Hamilton, New Zealand, for children ages 10 to 18. 

A group of club members, led by JUNATS fossil expert Chris Templer, found the extinct giant's bones on a small peninsula in Kawhia Harbor during a field trip. The fossil is the most complete giant penguin skeleton ever discovered, and the length of its hind limbs inspired researchers to name it Kairuku waewaeroa: "waewae" means "legs" and "roa" means "long" in the Māori language, scientists wrote in a new study about the giant bird.

H/t Blade at the Stellar Parthenon BBS

This is an Inspired Troll

This is insired

It appears that some wag has painted a truck in the colors of the non-existent Wilmore Funeral Home exhorting people not to get a vaccine.

They have taken to driving it around to sporting events and other public gatherings:

In the age of misinformation, aiming to increase vaccine confidence while simultaneously calling out anti-vax sentiment is quite a tricky task.

An ad campaign attempting to do just that has gone viral on Twitter after a user posted a photo of a truck driving around Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte prior to Sunday’s game between the Panthers and the Saints. The truck trumpeted the message “Don’t get vaccinated,” with “Wilmore Funeral Home” listed as its benefactor.

In reality, Wilmore Funeral Home doesn’t appear to exist. Its website is merely a mostly blank page featuring a “Get vaccinated now” box; clicking on it takes users to Charlotte provider StarMed Healthcare, and a page providing credible vaccine information.

I wholeheartedly approve.

Now Expect a Scramble to Find Loopholes

Following repeated reports of horrifying levels of workplace injuries at Amazon warehouses, California has passed legislation regulating the the quotas and algorithms used in warehouses.

Specifically, it requires that the standards for employees be made public, and that they demonstrate that these standards do not require things like skipping breaks and injuring workers.

I expect Amazon to try and find a way to game the system:

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed a bill that limits warehouse employers like Amazon.com Inc. from setting productivity quotas, the first legislation of its kind in the United States.

The new provisions require all companies using warehouse labour to disclose productivity quotas to employees and government agencies and bar use of algorithms that prevent employees from taking rests and bathroom breaks, thereby endangering their health and safety, the governor's office said.


While Newsom's office did not single out any company in the statement, the New York Times reported that the bill was written partly in response to high rates of injuries at Amazon warehouses.

The rate at which Amazon workers suffer serious injuries was nearly double that of the rest of the warehousing industry last year, the newspaper reported, citing studies.

Among other things, I expect Amazon to create "independent" companies to own and operate the warehouses, much in the same way that they do with delivery drivers, in order to insulate themselves from legal liability.

Amazon won't do the right thing until Jeff Bezos is frog marched out of his offices, or his mansion, in handcuffs.

Way to Go, Guys

The New York Times got its hands on an advance copy of the "audit" of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona, and Joe Biden's margin of victory rose.


After months of delays and blistering criticism, a review of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county, ordered up and financed by Republicans, has failed to show that former President Donald J. Trump was cheated of victory.

Instead, the report from the company Cyber Ninjas said it found just the opposite: It tallied 99 additional votes for President Biden and 261 fewer votes for Mr. Trump in Maricopa County, the fast-growing region that includes Phoenix.

“Truth is truth and numbers are numbers,” Karen Fann, the Republican Senate president who commissioned the vote review, said as the findings were presented to the State Senate on Friday.

Mr. Biden won Arizona by roughly 10,500 votes, making his victory of about 45,000 votes in Maricopa County crucial to his win. Under intense pressure from Trump loyalists, the Republican majority in the State Senate had ordered an autopsy of the county’s votes for president and the U.S. Senate seat won by Mark Kelly, a Democrat.

Review officials implicitly acknowledged Mr. Biden’s victory, noting that there were no substantial differences between the new tally of votes and the official count by Maricopa County election officials. But they also claimed that other factors — most if not all contested by reputable election experts — left the results “very close to the margin of error for the election.”

Yet in the hourslong presentation before the State Senate the review officials did not focus on the numbers showing Mr. Biden’s victory but instead presented a blizzard of hypotheticals, none verified, most hinting darkly at a tainted election. They came prepared with slides, ballot scans and discussions of arcane election rules.

Among the "experts" who testified was the former lover of Fran Drescher, whose claim to fame was a fraudulent claim that he invented email, more than a decade after the first email was sent, and more than 2 years after the f%$#ing Queen of England sent her first email.

So, the clown show continues.

Is It Him, or a F%$#Ing Intern?

You know, when you write an economic paper for the Federal Reserve, remember to proofread the footnotes as well.

Either he had an intern pull a fast one on him, or Jeremy B. Rudd, Senior Adviser for the Program Direction Section for Research and Statistics at the Federal reserve is way cooler than one would expect for someone to be at that august institution.

My money is actually on the latter, since his lede paragraph quotes Dashiell Hammett's book, The Dain Curse, which implies a strong affinity for the darkest of sarcasm.

23 September 2021

Gee, Ya Think?

After billions of dollars (or ₤ in this case) wasted, and surprise, government relying expensive private consultants is less useful than tits on a bull.

This is encapsulated in a quote from Taavi Kotka, former CIO of Estonia, who, when asked how he created such an effective IT infrastructure for such a low cost, "If you don’t use Accenture or McKinsey, you’d be amazed at what you can get done." 

The privatization of core government services, what Bill Clinton and Al Gore called, "Reinventing Government," has been an miserable failure:
When he was leader of the opposition, David Cameron did not mince his criticism of the Labour government’s dependency on consultancy companies. Speaking in 2008, he lambasted how, “for the last decade or so, in the name of modernisation, rationalisation and efficiency, we have been living under a regime of government by management consultant and policy by PowerPoint.”

Fast forward 13 years, and those words could have been said by any politician about the decisions of Conservative governments since. As one Tory minister put it last year, Whitehall has been “infantilised” by an “unacceptable” reliance on expensive management consultants.

Lord Agnew’s comments came in the wake of revelations that the government was spending tens of millions of pounds on private sector consultants to deliver England’s test and trace system. Rather than see the challenge of developing this as an opportunity for public sector and NHS employees to put their expertise to use, ministers and civil servants relied on companies including Deloitte and Boston Consulting Group. The approach led to test result delays, IT system bugs and laboratory bottlenecks.


The UK state’s spending on consultancy has ballooned, notably in the past five years: Brexit and the pandemic have proved to be incredibly lucrative. Between 2017 and 2020, approximately £450m was spent on consulting fees related to Brexit by government departments, with the receipts for Covid-19 contracts coming in at over £600m. These figures alone could pay the salaries of more than 10,000 civil servants for three years – and total spending on consultants across the public sector is much higher. The bulk of this money has gone to large multinational firms, including the big four accounting consultancies – Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG.


The consulting industry has its roots in the late 19th century and the electrochemical revolution in the United States, but it was only in the postwar decades that the large, multinational firms characterising consulting today emerged. The rise of multidivisional companies and then the “shareholder revolution” of the 1980s created ample opportunities for management advice.

For much of the 20th century, consultants working for government did just that: consulted. All this began to change with the advent of neoliberalism in the 1980s and its public sector surrogate, new public management. The liberalising and privatising reforms of politicians in the UK and the United States during this time were premised on an assumption that governments are, at best, “market fixers”, which should take up as little space as possible in the economy. The idea that government failure is even worse than market failure made states fear risk taking, and thus pass responsibility on to others. Under Margaret Thatcher, government spending on consulting services soared from around £6m annually in 1979 to £246m, with companies even contracted to help deliver the privatisation of state-owned enterprises.


What we do discover about the activities of these companies is nonetheless often cause for alarm. Barely a week goes by without some reporting of a new consulting car crash, whether it’s BCG and Deloitte’s involvement in the test and trace programme; KPMG signing off on Carillion’s accounts months before its collapse; or McKinsey advising the manufacturer of OxyContin how to increase its sales of the opioid now at the heart of the US overdose crisis.


The pandemic has highlighted just how important it is to have governments that are adaptable, capable and accountable. The more we rely on the consulting industry to deliver critical policy and service functions, the less our democratic system is able to maintain the dynamic capabilities and capacity that will enable us to confront the challenges of the future – from climate breakdown to health emergencies. It is time to put an end to today’s “regime of government by management consultant and policy by PowerPoint” – and instead invest inside our public sector, building an economy that serves the common good.

That last sentence should be placed on a branding iron, and burnt into the ass of any bureaucrat who wants to hire private consultants to do core government functions.

The incentives for private industry, and private charities, are generally antithetical to good governance.

I am the Dullest Motherf%$#er on the Face of the Earth

First, my midlife crisis car is a 2004 Prius.

Second, in my quest for an obscure culinary ingredient, Colatura di Alici, basically a modern version of the Roman sauce Garum, I checked out a local gourmet store.

The shop was basically a Russian shop, with many interesting products, and since it was only about 2 miles down the road, so I called Sharon*, to check some of the groceries out.

When she arrived, we had a grand old time, and I realized that we had actually had a date. ……… Taking a tour of a small ethnic grocery store.

I have reached profoundly a profoundly new level of dull.

On the exciting side, I bought a bottle of kvass, a Russian cross between a soda pop and a near beer, which has turned out to be rather nice.

I had always wanted to try it.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

It's Jobless Thursday!

And for the third straight week, initial unemployment claims rose.

It's only been small increases, but everything keeps holding at 300,000 to 325,000 which is not a good number by the standards of the before time:

Jobless claims climbed slightly last week but remained near pandemic lows, as demand for workers keeps a lid on layoffs.

Initial unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000 last week from a revised 335,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average for initial claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, declined slightly and remained at its lowest level since the Covid-19 crisis began last year.


Last week’s increase appears to have been driven largely by higher totals in claims reported by California and Virginia, Ms. Houten added. “The big picture is that we expect the labor market recovery will continue.”

States which did not prematurely end benefits, so maybe this is the end of extended benefits kicking in.


Continuing claims, a proxy for the number of workers receiving benefits, rose by 131,000 to 2.85 million in the week ended Sept. 11, up from the prior week’s pandemic low. Recent declines in continuing claims indicate that jobless workers have been leaving the unemployment rolls for new positions or because they have exhausted their benefits.

I think that the next 4-6 weeks will be crucial, but I've sent that before, and I fear that I am starting to sound like Tom "The Mustache of Inanity" Friedman.


When The Family Guy is more socially responsible than a major political party, we areofficially f%$#ed:

22 September 2021

Finally, Someone Goes There

He should have thrown a shoe
Admittedly, it's just a random Iraq war vet heckling George W. Bush, but he called out Shrub's lying about WMDS, cost about 4,500 American lives and between 150,000 and 1,033,000 Iraqi ones, in adddition to trillions of dollars wasted.

Of course for our political elites, Bush knows which fork to use, so it's all good.

Haven't you seen him hanging out with Michelle Obama?

There might a better mark of our corruption and decadence as a society than this, but none immediately comes to mind:

A veteran of the United States invasion of Iraq, Mike Prysner, publicly called out former U.S. President George W. Bush, a viral video circulating the internet showed late Monday.

“Mr. Bush, when are you going to apologize for the million Iraqis that are dead because you lied?” he asked.

“You lied about weapons of mass destruction, you lied about connections to 9/11,” he said, referring to the terrorist attacks that destroyed New York’s World Trade Center.

“You lied about Iraq being a threat,” shouted Prysner, who was interrupted by Bush telling him to “sit and behave.”

"Sit down and behave," "Show some manners," and, "We need civility," are lies promulgated by our misleading elites to avoid accountability.

In a just world, Bush, and Cheney, and the rest of that scurvy lot would be sitting in cells in The Hague.

Anyone Surprised?

Senator Susan Collins, who has always cast herself as a defender of the right to choose, has declared her opposition to an abortion rights bill, because whenever the vote is close, and it's important, she will always side with the Republicans basest perversions: (See Kavanaugh, Brett)

As Democrats consider legislation to respond to a new Texas state ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, they have lost the support of one of the few remaining Republicans who support abortion rights.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Tuesday she opposes the Democrats’ bill, whi, ch would prohibit states from enacting restrictions on abortion through fetal viability.

Not a surprise.  Susan Collins never supported abortion-rights, she just pretended to when it did not matter.

The House is expected to approve the bill Friday. In the Senate, Democratic leaders are considering whether to bring it to a vote.

Democrats, led by bill author Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, say their legislation would codify the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

But in a brief interview, Collins said the bill goes further than that by interfering with existing law that ensures health professionals who object to abortion are not required to participate in it.

“I support codifying Roe. Unfortunately the bill … goes way beyond that. It would severely weaken the conscious exceptions that are in the current law,” Collins said, adding that she found parts of the bill’s language “extreme.”

Of course she does.


The Maine Republican’s opposition to the Democrats’ bill is likely to further fuel liberals’ distrust of Collins, who is one of only two remaining Republicans in Congress who support abortion rights, along with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

There never was any reason to trust Collins.  She has been playing this game for years.


Though it remains unclear whether the legislation would even achieve a simple majority of 50, some abortion rights supporters, including Blumenthal, are pushing for a vote to force senators to go on the record on abortion rights.

Get them on the record.

Make Collins rip off her mask, and jam up Manchin and Casey, because their positions are ferociously unpopular with the voters.

Just folding up the tent and moving on is horrible politics and worse policy.

21 September 2021

My Brain Just Broke

The statement is fairly anodyne, and it certainly explains a lot of the politics around the issue, but look at the author.

The fact that Geraldo F%$#ing Rivera is saying it is a sign of the apocalypse.

Imagine That!

There is an interesting data point in the August job numbers, job growth was faster in states that kept providing extended unemployment benefits experienced faster job growth.

Yet another right wing theory exploded.

Correction; the same old right wing theory, that more cruelty is always the answer, has again been shown to fail: 

The federal government eliminated pandemic UI benefits on September 6 with the full support of President Biden. At the time, the available labor market data showed that this was a mistake: states that had prematurely ended the benefits in the summer did not grow payrolls faster than states that didn’t and so the cuts served no purpose except to immiserate jobless people.

A few days ago, the BLS released its monthly local area unemployment data for August and this data shows once again that UI cuts are not supercharging employment growth. Quite the opposite in fact. In August, states that cut UI benefits over the summer saw their payrolls grow by 0.12 percent. States that had retained UI benefits grew their payrolls by 0.27 percent, more than twice as fast as the benefit-cutting states.

Of course, Joe Biden and the  Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) blithely allowed benefits to expire on labor day, so now the rest of the country will experience this lack of performance.


America's Finest News Source

Democrats Sick Of Being Blamed For Cowardice On Issues They Actually Just Don’t Care About
The Onion

It's funny because it's true.

It's sad because it's true.

Quote of the Day

The Democratic Party — A Loose Collection of Natural Enemies Knitted Together Only by Their Shared Refusal to Say Racial Slurs in Public
In These Times

The full article is about how Progressives in the Democratic caucus need to call the phony Dems' bluff, and worth the read.

People like Manchin, Sinema, and Gottheimer are all about f%$#ing with their fellow Democrats to build themselves up.

They are bullies, and they will continue to f%$# with you until you f%$# them back.

Pry Their Law Licenses from Their Cold Dead Fingers

Even though the Governor pardoned them for drawing down on protesters marching down the street, St. Louis' own Ken and Karen, Mark and Patricia McCloskey have been referred to the State Supreme Court for moral turpitude for that incident with a recommendation that hteir law licenses be suspended.

I really hope that they get their tickets pulled:

The gun-toting couple in St. Louis, Mo., who gained national notoriety after they stood on their lawn and pointed weapons at people protesting against racial injustice, may have their licenses to practice law revoked.

The couple, who both practice law together at the McCloskey Law Center specializing in personal injury, pleaded guilty to firearm charges in June but were pardoned by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) in July.

Missouri Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan Pratzel, whose office is responsible for investigating ethical complaints against Missouri lawyers, this week asked the state Supreme Court to suspend their law licenses, according to a court filing first reported by Kansas City, Mo., radio station KCUR-FM.

Pratzel’s motion argued that the McCloskeys’ crimes had shown “indifference to public safety” and involved “moral turpitude” warranting discipline, as he recommended the state Supreme Court indefinitely suspend their licenses, according to the Associated Press. Pratzel also stated in the court filing that while a pardon erases a conviction, “the person’s guilt remains.”

These people's entire lives have an exercise in white privilege.

It's a good time to disabuse them of this.


20 September 2021

Canadian Snap Elections Settle Nothing

It looks like the Liberals in Canada will be forming another minority government

PM Justin Trudeau called a snap election in the hopes that his management of Covid-19 would give him an outright majority, but, as is often the case with young Justin, it did not quite work out that way.

The preliminary numbers indicate that Liberals lost 1 seat, the Conservatives gained 1 seat, the Bloc Quebecois lost 2 seats, the New Democratic Party gained 4 seats, and the Greens kept their seats.

I'm not sure if Trudeau can pull off having a minority government without a coalition partner this time around.

Personally, if I favor the NDP, and if I were in the position of Jagmeet Singh, the head of the NDP, I would do my best to ensure that Trudeau was forced a coalition with my party, but if I were an NDP rank and file member, I'd want to dump Singh after two VERY lackluster electoral performances:

Canadian voters handed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau a third term in government in an outcome that nearly mirrored the electoral result in the 2019 election and reflected ambivalence if not anger toward the prime minister who triggered a snap election in a pandemic.

After an uninspired and uninspiring campaign that failed to catch voters’ imagination, preliminary results showed the Liberal party leading or elected in 156 seats. The Conservatives were leading in 122. The Bloc Québécois was at 31 seats and the NDP at 26.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole conceded after midnight in a private call to Trudeau. But he was publicly defiant about the result and his own attempts to drag his party towards the political centre.

Yes, the right in Canada has been increasingly unhinged over the past 2 decades.


The question now is how the Liberal leader, who remains prime minister until he resigns or loses a confidence vote, will secure allies among the other smaller but progressive parties — the New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, and Greens — to support his agenda, and at what cost to his own plans.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said on the weekend his priority in order to support another party is to ensure the wealthiest “ultra-rich” pay higher taxes, but late Monday, a top New Democrat strategist told the Star that is not a condition of support, and that those kinds of conversations and negotiations would likely only come closer to a throne speech once the dust on this divisive election settles.

This sort of prevarication is why the NDP is now the #4 party instead of #3.


Trudeau lost two cabinet ministers, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef.

It's a pity that Chrystia Freeland, who has literally made a career of lying about her grandfather's Nazi past did not lose her seat.

Basically, this whole election was, to quote Billie Shakespeare, "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

He Will Be Missed

On a number of occasions, I have quoted Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong.

He is probably my favorite Christian theologian, which is actually fairly faint praise, but he has consistently, and strenuously fought against the normalization of hostility and hate as religion in the United States.

My favorite quote of his is a question, "Has religion in general and Christianity in particular degenerated to the level that it has become little more than a veil under which anger can be legitimatized?"

Well, he has died at age 90:

John Shelby Spong, a charismatic Episcopal bishop who pushed his followers to accept women and L.G.B.T.Q. clergy, and who later called on them to reject sacrosanct ideas like Jesus’ virgin birth and the existence of heaven and hell, died on Sept. 12 at his home in Richmond, Va. He was 90.

His death was announced by the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, where he had served as bishop from 1976 to 2000.

Bishop Spong combined celebrity with tireless writing and speaking, perhaps more than any other liberal theologian in the late 20th century, to open up the Episcopal Church, and the global Anglican Church of which it is a part. He was one of the first American bishops to ordain a woman into the clergy, in 1977, and the first to ordain an openly gay man, in 1989.


Through more than 25 books, as well as speaking schedules that often included 200 events a year and regular appearances on the talk shows of Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue and others, Bishop Spong urged his church to reconcile with modernity, even if that meant setting aside supernatural ideas like Jesus’ resurrection. That position drew intense support, but it also drew equally intense criticism from the church’s traditionalist wing.

“If you wanted to see a frown on a traditional Episcopalian’s face, you just had to mention John Shelby Spong,” said Mark Tooley, the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative think tank.


If Bishop Spong’s position on women and L.G.B.T.Q. clergy put him on the edge of the mainstream, his theological views put him well outside it. He taught that the Gospels should be considered artistic interpretations of Jesus’ life, not literal accounts of it, and he called on Christians to reject ideas, like original sin, that could not be explained by science.

Those views, even more than his social activism, attracted millions of followers, as well as countless critics. Writing in National Review in 1988, William Murchison called Bishop Spong “the latest in a long line of right reverend goofballs,” chastising him for calling on the church to bend toward modern society rather than the other way around.


As a white progressive minister in the South during the civil rights era, he often found himself at odds with his community, especially when he insisted on preaching to Black congregations. He and his family faced regular threats and harassment, and he later claimed that the Ku Klux Klan of eastern North Carolina had labeled him their No. 1 enemy.

He had the right enemies.  That is a mark of a man of character.

Tweet of the Day

Out of the mouths of babes.

19 September 2021

Primary These Bastards

After taking massive amounts of money from big Pharma,  Scott Peters (CA), Kurt Schrader (OR), and Kathleen Rice (NY) voted to kill a bill allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Notwithstanding their rhetoric about preserving innovation in pharmaceuticals, it's really about these members of Congress being owned by the pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists.

Their political careers need to be terminated with extreme prejudice:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s aggressive drug pricing package failed a key committee vote on Wednesday, prompting questions about whether the measure can survive a full House vote.

Reps. Scott Peters (Calif.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), and Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), all Democrats, followed through on their threats to vote against the provision in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s markup. Republicans unanimously opposed the measure, too, leading to a tie vote that means the provision failed to advance to a full House vote.

Before the vote, Peters said he opposed the legislation on the grounds that it would stifle future investment in drug development. He cited a Sept. 8 letter in which over 400 biotechnology investors argued that the Democrats’ bill was “draconian” and would “immediately halt funding of drug discovery and development.”

Translation:   We need to allow big Pharma to extort money from society, because otherwise how can we pay 7 figure bonuses and stock options to out CEOs?


The vote may not stop House leadership from pushing forward with the bill, however, as a separate panel is also marking up the legislation. House Democrats only have a three-vote margin on the House floor, and the vote attracted the attention of House leadership. The drug pricing provision will “remain a cornerstone of the Build Back Better Act as work continues between the House, Senate and White House on the final bill,” Pelosi spokesperson Henry Connelly said in a statement.

Good.  Make these folks vote against the single most popular policy in America again, and again, and again, and again.

Make them pay the political cost.


Social Security Works, an advocacy group that supported Pelosi’s proposal, did not hold back in its criticism of the three moderates.

“It is disgusting when politicians who supported Medicare negotiation in the past switch their votes in exchange for pharma cash,” said executive director Alex Lawson.

Peters accepted a flood of campaign cash from drug makers after co-authoring a letter that criticized Pelosi’s drug pricing plan for being partisan. Rice and Schrader also signed that letter, which was sent in May.

These folks need to be repeatedly named and shamed for their betrayal of the American people. 

Allowing psychopaths like this to continue to thrive in our polity is a mark of profound failure in our society.

Objectively Pro Insurrection

On January 6, some of the Capitol Police officers took selfies with the people invading the Capitol.

We need to systematically go through every police department in the nation and get these people out.

They are bad cops, and they cost the taxpayers billions to fix their misdeeds:

A Capitol Police officer facing disciplinary action told investigators that he posed for a photo with a suspect during the Jan. 6 riot in order to identify him later.

But the officer never shared that plan with his supervisor, the Capitol Police’s investigations unit or the FBI. It was only when the FBI contacted the Capitol Police about the officer’s photo in Facebook posts they were using to obtain an arrest warrant that the officer filled in his supervisors, according to internal investigation documents obtained by McClatchy.

The officer, whose name is redacted from the documents, is one of six facing disciplinary action related to the Jan. 6 riot when supporters of former President Donald Trump mobbed the Capitol building as lawmakers were certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

Three of the cases recommended for disciplinary action after internal investigations by the Office of Professional Responsibility involved Capitol Police officers who allegedly posed for photographs with rioters, according to the documents.

Whether it's selfies in the the Capitol, or Kenosha cops sharing water with terrorist Kyle Rittenhouse, it is clear that the police across the nation have been thoroughly infiltrated by bigots, fascists, and criminals.

Read more here: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article254245798.html#storylink=cpy

This Is the Second Biggest Etrogim I’ve Seen in My Life

Mutant Etrogim

Close-up for scale

We fling around shrubbery and give thanks to God. 

An Etrog is kind of a cross between a lemon and an orange, with a thick rind and a distinctly football shape, and normally it ranges to about the size of a lemon, and twice the size of a lemon.  (The plural is Etrogim)

We went to as Sukkot pop-up shop today to pick up the Lulav & Etrog, and we picked up a normal Etrog, yellow, fragrant, and about the 1½ times the size of a lemon, one of the larger ones that we have ever gotten.

We also saw these babes in the shop.  They are the size of a cantaloupe.

In fact, I could imaging Tom Brady under-inflating these Etrogim on game day.

Seriously, these were seriously huge citrus fruits.


18 September 2021

Profiteering Pastor Pushes Paid Pandemic Passport

Oklahoma Cleric Jackson Lahmeyer is offering to sell religious exemptions to vaccines.

It appears that Elmer Gantry may be the cream of this crop: 

A pastor is encouraging people to donate to his Tulsa church so they can become an online member and get his signature on a religious exemption from coronavirus vaccine mandates. The pastor, Jackson Lahmeyer, is a 29-year-old small-business owner running in the Republican primary challenge to Sen. James Lankford in 2022.

Lahmeyer, who leads Sheridan Church with his wife, Kendra, said Tuesday that in the past two days, about 30,000 people have downloaded the religious exemption form he created.


“He’s not really selling a religious exemption,” said Haynes, who compared Lahmeyer’s exemption offer to televangelists who sell things like prayer cloths. “He’s selling a bogus idea that you need one.”

Religious hypocrisy much? 

It seems that WAY to much of US Evangelical Christianity culture is steeped in a culture of chicanery.

How Utterly Proper

It appears that Joe Biden's nomination of Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan will have to rely on Republican votes to get confirmation.

Let's see, Rahm:

  • Does not speak Japanese.
  • Has never spent much time in Japan.
  • Is completely unfamiliar with the concept of "Diplomacy".
  • Is so toxic to the Democratic Party rank and file that a significant number of Democratic Senators will vote against him. 

The Democrats hate him because he covered up a police murder to win reelection, and got caught.

He's too toxic for the voters of Chicago, but Biden wants to find a place for him in his administration, despite the policy and political incompetence that he has generated over the years.

Emanuel should be in the dock for obstruction of justice and abuse of office, not up for Senate confirmation:

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose nomination to become ambassador to Japan has angered liberal activists, has clinched the votes of at least three Republican senators, giving him an important buffer against possible Democratic defections and boosting his chances of winning confirmation in the evenly divided Senate.

Emanuel, who has held powerful positions in government for three decades, is waging an aggressive behind-the-scenes effort to secure votes from Democrats and Republicans, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Among his earliest coups are Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of former president Donald Trump; Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the fourth-ranking GOP senator, who has opted not to seek reelection next year; and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a centrist fresh off winning a fifth term.


The fight over Emanuel’s nomination offers a fresh glimpse into the nation’s reckoning on race and police violence, given his wrestling with those issues as Chicago mayor. It will also test the power of personal relationships in Congress, given Emanuel’s longtime relations there.

It will test the power of corruption in Congress, both generally, and among the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

My money is on corruption winning.


The Washington Post contacted the offices of all 100 senators this week to ask if they plan to support Emanuel, in some cases speaking with the lawmakers themselves. Most did not respond or declined to take a position ahead of Emanuel’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has not yet been scheduled.

Among those who did not weigh in were a handful of Democrats whose votes Emanuel’s critics and champions believe could go either way. They include Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has clashed with Emanuel, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another prominent liberal.

Neither of the chamber’s African American Democrats, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), who have been outspoken critics of police violence against people of color, disclosed a position on Emanuel.

At least one Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), has suggested that McDonald’s killing could be relevant to his decision. Activists were furious that dashboard-camera video of the shooting was not released until 13 months after McDonald’s death; [and just after Emanuel's reelection as Chicago mayor] Emanuel attributed the delay to an ongoing federal probe, but critics accused him of playing politics.

[because it clearly was a reelection ploy]

Emanuel is absolutely wrong for this position, and absolutely wrong for ANY position of authority.

Make him ambassador to the Grand Dutchy of Fennwick, because his fictitious diplomatic skills are well suited to a fictitious country.


Remember the rally today for the people jailed for the January 6 attempted putsch?  It was today.

Not only did cops, journalists, and counter-protesters out number the crowd, the number of insurrectionists who have been charged outnumbered them as well.

It turns out that the insurrectionists could not even get their mothers to show up:

The most anticipated visit by right-wing activists to the nation’s capital since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 ended with a whimper Saturday, as demonstrators supporting the rioters found themselves far outnumbered by police, journalists and counterprotesters.

Although the protesters returned to the scene of a historically grievous attack on American democracy, it was immediately obvious that much had changed. The Capitol grounds — where poorly prepared police fought a losing, hand-to-hand battle against President Donald Trump’s supporters just over eight months ago — were secured Saturday with metal fences and hundreds of officers. The halls of Congress were all but deserted. No president, or former president, delivered a bellicose speech urging that his election loss be overturned.

Police made just four arrests throughout the day, seizing two weapons. The relative peace and quiet was a welcome turn for the U.S. Capitol Police, whose leaders endured blistering criticism in the months after Jan. 6 for inadequate security.

There were somewhere between 100 and 200 protesters, and there have been more than 600 insurrectionists charged to this point.

Unbelievably lame.

17 September 2021

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

We have a development with C O Federal Credit Union, of Charleston, South Carolina, which had been taken into conservatorship in January, and has now been liqudated.

So the total number of closings have not changed, but a 2nd credit union has been liquidated after being placed under conservatorship.

Here is the Full NCUA list, and here is the direct link for this year.

I am not sure what this all means, the NCUA statement is fairly anodyne.

Today in Wicked Bad Ideas

The US is offering nuclear submarine technology to Australia.

In addition to enraging France and potentially screwing up NATO relations in a way that Donald Trump could only dream of, France has withdrawn its ambassadors from both the US and Australia.

Given that France had a deal with Australia to sell them its submarines, and this was announced with no notice to Paris, the reaction is not a surprise.

That being said, I my concerns are technical rather than foreign relations.

You see, to save weight and to extend the intervals between refueling, the US navy fuels its reactors with bomb-grade uranium.

The exact percentage of enrichment is classified, but the consensus is that the fuel is well above 90% enriched.

Giving this technology to Australia is a proliferation nightmare.

What's more, this technology is not necessary, as the Australian Navy does not have the need to deploy thousands of miles away from their base with an underwater transit.

With a basic diesel electric submarine, and a supplementary 1MW nuclear reactor, which would not require HEU, you could get unlimited endurance, and continuous underwater speed of more than 5 knots.*

For short bursts of speed, you would still have the batteries, and for long deployments, you would use the diesel engine, as Australia's current submarines do.

This has, "Failure," written all over it, and not just because of the proliferation issues, but because it creates another avenue for various opponents to acquire details of the technology.


*The Virginia class boats are capable of "More than 25 kts submerged" with a 30MW powerplant. If you assume that half of the 1MW power output goes to operating the submarine, you have 500 WK available for propulsion. Given that power required proportional to the cube of the speed, 500KW gives you about 6 kts.

Not a Tragic Mistake, a War Crime

Following a New York Times expose revealing that the drone strike against alleged ISIS-K militants in Kabul in fact targeted an aid worker and his family, and that all the victims were civilians, the Pentagon has admitted that they made a mistake.

This was not a mistake, it was deliberate.  Someone at very senior levels decided that they had to drone someone on the flimsiest of evidence to retaliate for the bombing at the Kabul airport.

It's kind of like kicking your cat because your boss chewed you out.

Both are immature, but only one kills children, and only one is a war crime:

The Pentagon acknowledged on Friday that the last U.S. drone strike before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, after initially saying it had been necessary to prevent an attack on troops.

The extraordinary admission provided a horrific punctuation to the chaotic ending of the 20-year war in Afghanistan and will put President Biden and the Pentagon at the center of a growing number of investigations into how the administration and the military carried out Mr. Biden’s order to withdraw from the country.

Almost everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, and then days, and then weeks after the Aug. 29 drone strike turned out to be false. The explosives the military claimed were loaded in the trunk of a white Toyota sedan struck by the drone’s Hellfire missile were probably water bottles, and a secondary explosion in the courtyard in a densely populated Kabul neighborhood where the attack took place was probably a propane or gas tank, officials said.
I would like to see some accountability.  Every officer who signed off on this action, and everyone who enabled this callous disregard for civilian life and the law of war, needs to be investigated, and prosecuted if the facts bear this out.

Of course, the people who should be prosecuted, General Officers and Colonels, won't be prosecuted.

At best they will find a junior officer, or a non-commissioned officer, to tie this to, and blame them, because that is how military justice (an oxymoron if there ever was one) works.

We just created another few dozen people who want to kill Americans.

Florida Woman Gets Face Eaten by Leopard

Yeah, pretty much

It appears that the the Japanese saying, "ない愚かさはない薬です" is wrong, Covid is the medicine for stupidity

Free burritos for everyone

Right wing islamophobe, anti-vaccine activist, and person most deserving of bad Karma Laura Loomer has a particularly nasty case of Covid-19.

It appears that her previous statements about a bad burrito being worse than Covid are now inoperative:

The far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer says she’s tested positive for the coronavirus, after suffering from severe symptoms that she wrote left her feeling like she “got hit by a bus.”

In a post on the Trumpist social network Gettr, Loomer complained that she started suffering from “fever, chills, a runny nose, sore throat, nausea and severe body aches” on Wednesday that she said felt like “a bad case of the flu... So I took a COVID test and it came back POSITIVE.”

She added: “I have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine, and I don’t plan on ever taking it because it is unsafe and ineffective. Today, I immediately started a treatment of Azithromyacin and Hydroxychloroquine. I’m also taking the OrthoMune dietary supplement.” She said she’s also received the Regeneron antibody treatment used by ex-President Donald Trump.

Last year, Loomer expressed a wish that she could catch COVID to show everyone that it was no big deal. She wrote on Parler in December 2020: “I hope I get COVID just so I can prove to people I’ve had bouts of food poisoning that are more serious and life threatening than a hyped up virus. Have you ever eaten bad fajitas? That will kill you faster than COVID.”

However, in follow-up messages on her Telegram channel late Thursday, she made it clear that she was suffering severe symptoms. “Just pray for me please,” she wrote. “Can’t even begin to explain how brutal the body aches and nausea that come with COVID are. I am in so much pain.”

I'm beginning to think that I should start referring to Covid-19 as "God's justice."

Maybe, there is something wrong with me, because I feel absolutely no sympathy at all.  (Thinks for a bit)  Nope.  This is legitimately funny.